Epilogue: A Call to Arms
'This isn't any more stupid or dangerous than some of the other things we've done,' whispered Fred as they crept quietly out from the back door.
'Yes it bloody is,' George replied, 'the shop's being watched; it has been ever since we scarpered.'
'We've got to get into the cellar; we need more stock. They haven't found the way in, if they had, we'd know. And if the rumours that Dad's heard are true, the Death Eaters have something more important than Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to worry about today.'
'We can't bring the gear back here,' George protested, 'if we try to set up a proper manufacturing system in our room Muriel really will kill us.'
'We can argue later, George,' Fred hissed, 'We need to go now, before anyone realises that we've left the house.'
'Too late,' Ginny told them as she stepped out from the shadows, 'I think that I know where you two are sneaking off to.'
'We're just taking in the air, Ginny,' Fred whispered. His sister glowered disbelievingly.
'Don't worry your pretty little head about us,' tried George, using his best smile; he immediately regretted his choice of words. Ginny narrowed her eyes, pulled out her wand and hissed angrily.
'Just stay here, Ginny, and keep quiet, please,' begged Fred.
Ginny shook her head, 'Choose!' she ordered.
'Choose what?' Fred asked.
'She either stays here; or, she keeps quiet,' George explained.
'You can't come with us, Mum would kill us,' pleaded Fred.
Ginny folded her arms, 'Hard luck, I come with you, and keep quiet, or I stay here and make a noise, your choice. Muriel is driving me demented, too, you know.'
'They'll be long gone; you know that, don't you?' George told Ginny.
No one knows whether it was really them,' observed Ginny; 'but Snape sent the Sword of Gryffindor to Gringott's, so perhaps they really do need it.' She looked sadly at her brothers. 'I wish that we'd managed to steal it for them.'
'You were lucky to get away with detention, with old murderous Snape in charge,' George told her.
'Still, even getting into the Headmasters Office was an achievement,' complimented Fred. 'We never managed it.'
'Snape's not Dumbledore,' Ginny told him. 'The only way you'd have got in when Dumbledore was in charge was if he wanted you to.'
'We're going to have to fly,' Fred warned his sister, 'there's an anti apparition jinx over all of Diagon Alley and we can't use the Floo Network, we'd be spotted. It's more than a hundred and fifty miles on a broomstick.'
'I flew from Hogwarts to the Ministry on a Thestral two years ago,' Ginny reminded her brothers, 'and I couldn't even see the damn thing. After that, this'll be easy. Besides, you need me, because I have something you don't.'
'What?' Fred asked.
Ginny pulled out a large iron key. 'The key to Muriel's broom shed,' she told him smugly.
Fred groaned and gratefully clambered from his broom.
'I reckon that there's something wrong with that cushioning charm,' he said, wriggling his backside.
'Was it noticeably uncomfortable when you got on?' George asked his brother, 'Or did it just get more uncomfortable the longer you were sitting?'
'What did you do, George?' grinned Ginny.
'Duro charm,' George said, 'well, sort of. I didn't want it to be too hard when he first got on, he'd have noticed.'
'What did I do to deserve that?' Fred sounded hurt.
'You left me alone with Muriel for three hours last night,' George reminded his twin, 'the broom was just a warm-up. Your real payback starts tomorrow; I'm going to make you suffer, Fred.'
Fred grinned and rubbed his hands with glee, 'I'll be ready, little brother.'
'Wait,' Ginny ordered, as the twins made ready to step out from the alley where they'd landed. 'We'll be recognised, we'll need a disguise.'
Fred and George looked at her expectantly.
'What're you waiting for?' Fred asked.
'The Trace!' Ginny hissed, rolling her eyes. 'You do it, George, a colour change charm on our hair should be enough.'
George tapped first Fred's, then Ginny's, then his own head with his wand. Their hair changed colour, from red to a very dark brown. A second tap removed their freckles.
Fred was impressed, 'That's probably as much of a disguise as we'll need,' he said, 'no one ever notices anything except the ginger. Most people don't even know what colour my eyes are.'
'What colour are your eyes, Fred?' asked George curiously.
'The same colour as yours, of course,' Fred grinned.
The three Weasleys wrapped their cloaks around them. George pulled his hood forwards to cover his ears. On seeing this, Fred did the same. Together, they stepped out from the shadows and into Diagon Alley.
The place was a mess, worse than ever. Several witches and wizards were in the streets, repairing shops or simply watching the scenes of chaos. In the distance, the three Weasleys could see a horde of Goblins standing outside Gringott's, many were armed.
Ginny and the twins passed slowly by the battered bank. The facade was close to collapse. Several wizards were holding it up by magic while goblins scurried to repair the most serious damage. The huge metal doors lay twisted and broken in the street, pushed out from their frames by some tremendous force. Armed goblins shook swords and spears fiercely whenever the watching crowd moved towards the entrance. The spectators ebbed to and fro under their influence.
A grey-bearded Law Officer was being held at spear point by several goblins. The twins recognised the Sheriff who had led the search of their premises a few weeks earlier.
'No one enters,' a goblin shouted at the Sheriff, 'no one at all.'
'What happened?' George asked an elderly witch, keeping his head down.
'The Chosen One,' the witch declared, 'he broke into You-Know-Who's vault using a dragon and stole all of his treasure.'
'That's not what I heard,' the wizard next to her said, 'I heard that You-Know-Who had Potter locked up in a cell down there, he's been torturing him for months, but Potter escaped on a stolen dragon.'
Another witch had an entirely different story, it was apparent that no one really knew what had happened.
'Thanks,' Fred said, they left and continued on their way towards the shop.
'It's a good job we know where Harry was until this morning,' George told Ginny, giving her a hug as they walked away from the Bank. 'I wonder what they were really doing. Breaking into Gringott's and escaping on a dragon,' his voice was a worshipful whisper, 'how impressive is that?'
'With any luck,' Fred said, 'the Death Eaters will be too busy chasing Harry to worry about watching our shop.'
'Oh,' said George sadly as they approached the shop. It was a spell-blasted shell. Several of the surrounding walls still sported bright pink "Support Harry Potter" graffiti, there did not appear to be anyone watching the place.
'Wait,' Ginny hissed as Fred moved cautiously towards the front door. She pulled on a silver chain around her neck and withdrew her DA galleon from beneath her robes. The twins watched her curiously.
'It gets warm when a message is sent,' Ginny reminded them, 'by keeping it next to my skin, I get any message immediately.'
'Lumos,' she whispered. Her eyes sparkled as she read.
'What does it say?' asked Fred.
'It's from Neville,' she told her brothers, before reading the message aloud. '"He's at Hogwarts. We're fighting. Hog's Head Bar".'
The twins whooped.
'Let's go!' Ginny said, grabbing her brothers.
'Slow down, Ginny,' George said, 'we need to make sure everyone else knows. We don't all carry our galleons next to our skin, you know.'
'Leaky Cauldron,' suggested Fred, 'there were a couple of Death Eaters outside Gringott's. We know where Harry is, but they don't; not yet. There are usually a few in The Cauldron. We might be able to catch them unawares.'
'I'll change our hair back before we go in,' said George, 'We're Weasleys and proud of it, now. No more skulking and hiding.'
'But…' Ginny began.
'We're going to fight, sis,' George assured her.
'But we're bringing him an army,' Fred added. 'George, you contact Lee, he can broadcast the news. I'll contact Kingsley.'
Identical monkey Patronuses shot from the twins wands.
'Right,' said Fred, 'let's take our under-age sister to the pub.'
'I don't think Mum will be happy if we do that,' George grinned.
They had their wands in their hands when they cautiously and quietly entered the Leaky Cauldron. The bar was busy, they could tell from the noise; they opened the door slowly. The door opened in such a way that the bar itself was visible first. George held the door partly open, screening them from the seating area, until Hannah Abbot looked up to see why no-one had entered.
'Death Eaters?' George mouthed.
'Six,' Hannah mouthed in reply. There was a sudden commotion and she shook her head, mimicked someone vomiting and mouthed 'four.'
'That barmaid's poisoned our drinks,' someone shouted.
Ginny and the twins dashed into the room as Hannah drew her wand and old Tom ducked behind the bar. Four people sat in a corner booth near the entrance to the Muggle world; three wizards and a witch. None were very old, all appeared to be in their twenties. Two more, a man and a woman, were on their knees on the floor, both were holding their stomachs and retching helplessly, and both were covered in their own vomit. A tall dark haired young witch fired a stunning spell at Hannah, which the barmaid deflected easily.
Hannah's first stunning hex was deflected by a sloth-like young man, but the sudden arrival of the three Weasleys distracted the Death Eaters. Ginny targeted the Death Eater who'd attacked Hannah; Fred and George shouted simultaneously.
'Derrick' George yelled joyfully.
'Bole,' Fred bellowed gleefully.
Each fired a stunning spell at their chosen target. Two ape-like young men were slammed back into the partition wall, which partially collapsed under their combined weight.
'Stupefy,' Hannah and Ginny shouted together, the sloth-like man was hurled against the wall.
The sole Death Eater still standing, the dark haired young witch, tried to run. She slipped in a pool of vomit and fell to the floor. After several shouts of 'Incarcerous' the four, plus the two puking on the floor, were tightly bound.
'Sickening Sherbert,' Hannah answered Fred's unspoken question, grinning, 'I didn't fancy trying to take on all six. I could've probably managed those four without your help.'
'You got the message, then?' George asked. Hannah nodded and pulled a galleon from her cleavage. The four members of Dumbledore's Army grinned at each other. The pub had fallen silent during the short combat, now a buzz of conversation rose, as the bar's other occupants cautiously raised their heads from beneath tables.
'Tina Jackson,' Fred grinned, spotting a red head peering up from behind a table. The burly blonde young man she was with raised his wand.
'And Bailiff Jenkins,' George added.
'What's going on?' the young Bailiff asked.
'Say nothing,' Hannah advised. Fred ignored her.
'Harry Potter's at Hogwarts, we're going to help him,' Fred announced, 'who's coming with us?'
'Harry Potter's at Hogwarts?' the young bailiff repeated. His eyes lit up.
'Everybody stay calm,' he announced, I'm a Bailiff of the Law Office. I'm arresting these six,' he indicated the bound Death Eaters, for…'
'Being ugly?' George asked hopefully.
'That's no more a crime than cheeking a Law Officer,' Jenkins grinned.
'Drunk and Disorderly?' Fred suggested.
'Drunk and incapable,' Jenkins corrected, 'they certainly didn't look very capable to me.'
Fred and George laughed. 'We'll buy you a drink, when this is over,' Fred promised.
'I'll take them to the cells,' Jenkins told them, and I'd better call for assistance, if you're sure Potter's at Hogwarts, the Law Office will be needed.'
Ginny hissed, but Fred grabbed her wand arm.
'I know who I can trust,' Jenkins said, 'we're on your side, but how can we get into the school?'
'Leave that to me, Bailiff,' a deep voice boomed from the door. Kingsley Shacklebolt had silently entered the room. He was followed by a dozen blue-robed Aurors, their wands out. They were watching everyone carefully. 'Dominic, Ottilia, help the bailiff with his prisoners, and arrest the Sheriff, if you can find him.'
'He was outside Gringott's ten minutes ago,' George said.
'Thanks, George.' Kingsley's eyes flicked everywhere; Ginny had never seen him so focussed. The Bailiff and the two Aurors levitated the six bound individuals towards the door; it burst open and Lee Jordan dashed in, wand in hand.
'Royal,' he said, when Kingsley swung his wand round to cover him, 'it's me, River, and that's Rapier.' He pointed at Fred. Kingsley lowered his wand.'
'Fred, George,' Lee bellowed, 'good to see you.' He cut off the twins' effusive greetings and turned to Kingsley, 'I've made the recording, Alicia's busy setting it up on a permanent broadcast loop, she's using all three of our transmitters at different locations. It'll be hours before they can close them down. She's got Katie and Oliver helping her; they'll be here as soon as it's done.'
He'd hardly finished speaking when a bear Patronus burst into the room.
'Shacklebolt,' the bear said in a deep grumbling voice, 'Robards here, I hope this damn spell works properly. We've secured the Floo Network Authority, there's hardly anyone left in the Ministry. Young McLoughlin tells me that he'll be able to keep a floo connection open for as long as your supply of powder will allow, unless they attack and overpower us, which seems unlikely. Good luck.'
'After getting a secret message, most of Harry Potter's friends will be Apparating into the Hogs Head,' Kingsley announced to the stunned and silent pub, 'But dozens of people Apparating into a small pub could be dangerous, so the Auror Office have decided to set up a floo link from here. I'm expecting several more of your friends,' Kingsley told the Weasleys, 'and your parents and brothers. Who wants to go first?'
'I'm waiting for Justin,' Hannah announced, 'he'll be here soon; he's just gone to collect Colin.'
'C'mon, guys,' Lee grinned, 'we don't want to miss the excitement.'
He walked into the flickering green flames followed by Fred, Ginny and George and emerged in the dingy bar of The Hog's Head.
'Upstairs,' Aberforth Dumbledore grumbled, he thumbed towards a door, 'then through the picture above the fireplace.'
This,' Fred said happily, as they ascended the stairs, 'is going to be fun.'